It’s normal for people to feel blue every once in a while. And with the gradually darkening evenings, mixed weather, and the small detail of a global pandemic you might find it happens more than normal.
There aren’t always ways to magically fix it. But there are ways to lean in, acknowledge you’re having a bad day, and find ways to put a brighter spin on things. However big or small the gesture now’s the time to treat yourself with a little self-care.
Here are 12 simple ways to boost your mood when you’re feeling blue:
1. Do something for a friend to make them smile
When you’re feeling blue, it can be tough to ask for help. But a great way to cheer yourself up is to do something thoughtful for someone else. This doesn’t have to take time or cost anything. Even a funny gif or simple text message can make someone smile!
2. Have a hot drink
Particularly when the weather’s not great, there’s nothing like the perfect cup of tea or a creamy hot chocolate to make the world seem a little brighter. When I got some really bad news, I still remember my flatmate sitting me down and making me a cup of tea – there are clear healing powers in there! If you’re not a tea or coffee fan you might prefer a mug of soup. And to avoid getting the fear, you might prefer decaf (Nescafe Azera is still the only option I’ve found that tastes like real coffee.)
If you’re rushing around after small children and drinks keep getting cold, put them in a reusable cup with a lid that will keep the heat in – or request one for Christmas.
3. Paint your nails bright colours
When I was a teenager, my sister’s friend came to stay for a few days but got the flu and had to stay in bed. So to cheer her up, my mum invented ‘The Foxglove Challenge’ (we lived in Foxglove Barn).
This concept has since been appropriated for various breakups, illnesses, or when someone’s just having a tough time. They’re slightly different with each edition, but nearly always include ‘paint your nails 10 different colours’.
You don’t necessarily have to do that many shades, but admiring your cheerful nail polish can help the rest of you to feel a bit better too. If you prefer, you could always get the professionals to do it for you instead!
4. Have a really good stretch, or do some yoga
Are your shoulders up by your ears? Is your jaw clenched? Stop and have a really good stretch or do a bit of gentle yoga. If you’re at home, you could even just lie on the floor for a few minutes, breathe deeply and relax each part of your body. If you’re out, find somewhere quiet to shut your eyes for a few minutes, breathe in for four, hold for four, and breathe out for six a few times (as Headspace frequently tells me). Lift your shoulders as high as they will go, then relax them. And have a good yawn, then relax that jaw.
5. Have a shower
Sometimes the simplest things can be the most satisfying. If you’re feeling down, however tempting it may be to stay in your PJs, have a quick shower and wash your hair. Not only will you feel cleaner and shinier, but you can also feel a sense of achievement. If there’s no time for a shower, whip out the dry shampoo, or just put clean(er) clothes on. Yes, clean pyjamas do count as a new outfit if you don’t feel like getting dressed.
6. Eat cheese on toast
Feeling blue? It’s time for comfort food. So whether that’s cheese on toast, baked beans, or boiled eggs and toasted soldiers, sit back and enjoy the delicious simplicity.
7. Have a one-song dance party
This is a particularly good one if you’re stuck at a desk working (at home) – my sister and I used to do it a lot while we were both waist-deep in essays during uni.
Ideally, the song needs to be as cheesy or infectious as possible – Build Me Up Buttercup? Will Smith classics? – something you can’t possible dance half-heartedly to. Pull out your best/worst dance moves, sing at the top of your voice, and go wild for the full length of one tune. Then you can carry on with more, or go back to what you were doing.
If all you want to do is curl up in a ball, find some of your favourite low-key tunes, plug in your earphones, close your eyes and relax.
8. Get outside
Whether you want to do a lap of the park, go for a walk by the sea or simply walk around the block, getting outside into the fresh air can help clear your head with a change of scenery and a bit of exercise.
9. Read a magazine
There’s something wonderfully indulgent about reading a magazine cover to cover. So why not buy your favourite magazine, sit back and relax? If you have trouble finding the time, this can tie in nicely with getting a haircut! You might also enjoy getting stuck into a new book, even if it’s just one page every day.
10. Bake something
It smells good, it tastes good, and it’s fun. No need for anything too complicated, why not make brownies, cookies or banana bread? Then you’ve also achieved ‘use up the bananas’, and you get something tasty to enjoy.
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11. Make plans to meet a friend (or meet now!)
If you are feeling isolated, why not call or text some of your favourite people and make plans to meet. Even if it can’t happen right away, or it’s a Facetime rather than real life, it’s still something to look forward to.
12. Tick something small off your list
There’s nothing like a long to-do list for bringing you down, so why not find something small you can complete quickly? Maybe it’s making an appointment, putting the washing away, or writing an email – even the smallest tasks can give you a big sense of achievement. You may still be in your PJs, but you have ticked something off your list today!
Remember: Everyone has their ups and downs in life, but if you don’t feel like yourself and you’ve been feeling blue for a while, it’s important to talk to someone and get the help and support you need. This could mean opening up to a friend or visiting your GP or a therapist about your mental health. We all need a bit of extra help sometimes, and that’s nothing to be ashamed about.